Last straw for McDonald’s, Burger King in Mumbai plastic ban

Plastic straws can be seen at a McDonald’s restaurant, after it was revealed that they are to replace their plastic straws with paper ones in UK and Ireland restaurants, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
Updated 26 June 2018

Last straw for McDonald’s, Burger King in Mumbai plastic ban

MUMBAI: Burger King, McDonald’s and Starbucks are among dozens of companies fined for violating a new ban on single-use plastics in India’s commercial capital Mumbai, an official said Tuesday.
The rules, in force since Saturday, prohibit the use of disposable plastic items such as bags, cutlery, cups and bottles under a certain size.
Businesses and residents face fines of between 5,000 rupees ($73) for a first-time offense to 25,000 rupees ($367) or even three months in jail for repeat offending.
Some 250 officials, wearing blue uniforms and dubbed Mumbai’s “anti-plastic squad,” have been deployed to carry out inspections of restaurants and shops across the teeming coastal city of 20 million.
Nidhi Choudhari, a deputy municipal commissioner in charge of enforcing the ban, said 660,000 rupees ($9,684) in fines had been collected during the first three days.
She said 132 premises had been issued with penalties including outlets of Burger King, McDonald’s and Starbucks.
A branch of Godrej Nature’s Basket, a high-end Indian supermarket, had also been penalized, Choudhari added.
“All were fined for using banned plastic straws and disposable cutlery etc,” she told AFP.
Starbucks India and Hardcastle Restaurants, which runs the McDonald’s franchise in Mumbai, were not immediately available for comment.
Authorities hope the ban will help clean up Mumbai’s beaches and streets, which like other cites in India are awash with vast mountains of plastic rubbish.
Plastic has also been blamed for blocking drains and contributing to flooding during the city’s four-month-long summer monsoon.
Authorities first announced the ban — which covers the whole of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital — three months ago to allow businesses to prepare.
The majority of India’s 29 states have a full or partial ban on single-use plastics but the law is rarely enforced.
Choudhari said more than 8,000 businesses had been searched in Mumbai alone and at least 700 kilogrammes (1,500 pounds) of plastic seized.
Small traders, however, have claimed that the crackdown threatens their livelihoods.
Retailers associations say a confusion over what is and isn’t allowed has led small grocery stores to remain closed for fear of being fined.
The Plastic Bags Manufacturers Association of India estimates that 300,000 people employed in the industry could lose their jobs.
The United Nations warned earlier this month that the world could be awash with 12 billion tons of plastic trash by the middle of the century if use is maintained at current levels.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently pledged to make India, which was the host of this year’s International Environment Day, free of single-use plastic by 2022.


Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

Updated 29 October 2020

Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

  • Libya's rising production adding to pressure on oil markets

DUBAI: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will have to contend with a “lot of demand issues” before raising supply in January 2021, given throughput cuts by oil refiners, the head of Saudi Aramco’s trading arm said.
OPEC and its allies plan to raise production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January after record output cuts this year as the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand, taking overall reductions to about 5.7 million bpd. 

“We see stress in refining margins and see a lot of refineries either cutting their refining capacity to 50-60% or a lot of refineries closing,” Ibrahim Al-Buainain said an interview with Gulf Intelligence released on Wednesday.

“I don’t think the (refining) business is sustainable at these rates (refining margins).”

However, Chinese oil demand is likely to remain solid through the fourth quarter and into 2021 as its economy grows while the rest of the world is in negative territory, he added.

Among the uncertainties facing the oil market are rising Libyan output on the supply side and a second wave of global COVID-19 infections, especially in Europe, on the demand side, Al-Buainain said.

Complicating efforts by other OPEC members and allies to curb output, Libyan production is expected to rebound to 1 million bpd in the coming weeks.

Oil prices, meanwhile, fell over 4 percent on Wednesday as surging coronavirus infections in the US and Europe are leading to renewed lockdowns, fanning fears that the unsteady economic recovery will deteriorate.

“Crude oil is under pressure from the increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in Europe,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

Brent futures fell $1.91, or 4.6 percent, to $39.29 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $2.05, or 5.2 percent, to $37.52.

Earlier in the day Brent traded to its lowest since Oct. 2 and WTI its lowest since Oct. 5.

Futures pared losses somewhat after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said a bigger-than-expected 4.3 million barrels of crude oil was put into storage last week, but slightly less than industry data late Tuesday which showed a 4.6 million-barrel build.

However, crude production surged to its highest since July at 11.1 million barrels per day in a record weekly build of 1.2 million bpd, the data showed.

Gasoline demand has also been weak overall, down 10 percent from the four-week average a year ago. US consumption is recovering slowly, especially as millions of people restrict leisure travel with cases surging nationwide.